The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: The Steelers will sign a veteran offensive lineman off the street to address their injuries at the position.
Explanation: The Steelers suffered two potentially serious injuries along the offensive line last night that, as of the time of this writing, have not been updated. Zach Banner suffered a pectoral injury and Stefen Wisniewski a pectoral injury.
Right now, the only lineman on the team behind Maurkice Pouncey capable of playing center at more than an emergency-level basis is J.C. Hassenauer, a first-year player and former undrafted free agent who dressed for only his second game last night and has zero snaps.
If Wisniewski is going to be out for an extended period of time, then they are not going to move on with Hassenauer one snap away from playing significant snaps for multiple games. They will sign somebody who is available, as they did with Fernando Velasco several years ago when Pouncey was injured in the 2013 season opener. Remember how many people suggested the Steelers cut Pouncey after that and save money?
Meanwhile, at tackle, the team is one snap away from playing musical chairs, as Matt Feiler, the starting left guard, will have to also be the backup swing tackle. If anything happens to either starter, Kevin Dotson most likely will have to come in and take over at left guard so Feiler can kick outside.
Unless they bring in a veteran.
The Steelers kept three offensive linemen on the practice squad for a reason, and all three of them are capable of playing tackle. Derwin Gray has been in the system for two years, while Jarron Jones and Anthony Coyle both gained professional experience in the XFL earlier this year.
As far as Hassenauer goes, there’s a reason he made the team. There’s a reason he was brought up to the 53-man roster last year and allowed to dress in the season opener as the backup center while their season was on the line. They can promote from within, as they so often do. They’re replacing backups, not starters. In this case, I mean Okorafor’s role as backup as he moves into a starting role.